31 Days of Reviews: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)

A new cast pays homage to the cult classic, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, in a special broadcast on FOX.

In case you aren’t familiar with the plot of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, I’ll give a general run down. Newly engaged couple Brad and Janet get a flat tire late one rainy night and decide to see if a nearby castle has a phone they can use. Within the castle, they meet Dr. Frank N. Furter and a gaggle of oddball followers, in a night of sexual awakening that will probably be the wildest of their lives.

I’ll be straight up, right here. I’m not a fan of the original. I know! I know! Gasp, right? The plot loses me about the time that Eddie shows up, and then I can never fully reconnect. I have seen the full original film though, so I figured I could review this 2016 homage objectively.

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Whenever it comes down remaking a film, book, comic, anime series, whatever, the fans will never be entirely pleased. Remakes never fully live up to the original. They have their understandable differences. Different creators bring their own visions to the work. The cast and crew of this Rocky Horror remake had some pretty big shoes to fill. Through all of the promotional materials leading up to the broadcast, the cast and crew were pretty open about how much they loved the original, and they weren’t looking to remake it, just to pay a loving and fun homage.

It’s important to look at the 2016 Rocky Horror as just that.. a loving homage. The intent was not to remake the film.

That being said, I don’t think the creators of this rendition did that bad of a job. There were definitely some things that could have been done better, namely the variety of camera shots. It just felt like some of the musical numbers and iconic moments were completely missed because the camera work didn’t support it. This is really noticeable with Dr. Frank N. Furter’s entrance. It doesn’t have nearly as much zing as the original.

There are definitely some added comedic moments, and they’ve changed some things to reflect the 40 years that have gone by, but I think the lack of diverse camera angles really detracted from the overall appeal.

The fact that this was televised also detracted from it. Most of the commercial breaks are oddly placed, often in the middle of a scene. I found myself saying, “Wow! That’s an odd place for a commercial” all the time. It really takes away from the story. Sometimes it’s laughable. It’s a shame.

In this rendition, Laverne Cox portrays Dr. Frank N. Furter. She definitely had a big job ahead of her, and for the most part, I think she did a good job. I felt that she nailed all of her speaking parts. She was funny. It was all good. When it came to her musical numbers, it felt like the songs were set at too low of a key. There was just something off about it. Cox also brought a completely different energy to the role. There’s a difference between Laverne Cox rocking some sexy lingerie, and Tim Curry (who portrays Dr. Frank N. Furter in the original) rocking some sexy lingerie. It gave the doctor a completely different presence.

For the most part, all of the actors did a really good job in their roles. I definitely have to applaud Victoria Justice for her portrayal of Janet. She really nailed the character without copying Susan Sarandon’s original performance. I also have to give a shout out to Reeve Carney for his portrayal of Riff Raff. Rock on! Good job there. Other actors included Christina Milian playing Magenta, Adam Lambert as Eddie, Ryan McCartan as Brad, and Staz Nair as Rocky Horror. They all did a pretty great job bringing the story to the screen again.

I do have to say that I did not like the performance for the role of Columbia. Annaleigh Ashford portrayed the character almost as if Columbia didn’t want to be there, but that’s not how it should have come across at all. It felt like she got too lost in the accent she was trying to do, and everything came out like a bored teenager with a hangover.

Overall, this television event is a decent homage to the original Rocky Horror Picture Show, but it doesn’t have the same attitude. You could attribute this to the bright lights and the HD cameras adding a different spin on the material. You could attribute it to the changed mindset of the viewer from the 1970s to today. You could really attribute it to a lot of things. It’s a fun time, but it’s not meant to be a stand in for the original at all, and you can clearly see that.

If you haven’t seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show yet, I would probably recommend you see the 1975 film first. You could watch this televised version and get the idea of the story, but I don’t think you’ll really get the feeling that made it such a cult classic.

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